Judicial Reforms

Live-streaming of Court: Definitely A Great Move

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Live streaming of courts proceedings

CourtContext

  • On September 27, the Supreme Court enabled the live streaming of the hearing of cases.
  • A full court of all Supreme Court judges under the leadership of Chief Justice U U Lalit took the unanimous decision to live-stream constitutional bench proceedings. Justice Chandrachud, the Chairperson of the Supreme Court’s E-committee and the driving force behind the live streaming initiative, began the hearing in his courtroom by announcing,”We are virtual”.

Background

  • The Court’s original decision by the bench of the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud on September 27, 2018, allowing the live telecast of important proceedings paved the way for this outcome. They had held that the live-streaming of court proceedings is in the public interest.
  • Their vision had the full support of Chief Justices M V Ramana and U U Lalit.

What is live-streaming technology?

  • At its core, streaming content is meant to help people attend events, expos, and experiences they cannot attend in person.
  • Live streaming technology is how videos are streamed over the internet, live, in real-time, as they are being recorded.
  • Live streaming technology is the internet’s response to live television broadcasts, with the most popular being news shows and sports.

What is Live-streaming of the court?

  • Live streaming of court is that its proceedings that the people can watch on their mobiles and computers.All courtrooms function under camera glare.

CourtWhy Live-streaming of court is so important?

  • Instilling Faith in the Judiciary: Enabling the ordinary people of the country to view, without any barrier, the workings of the highest court of the land will go a long way in instilling faith in the judiciary.
  • Empowering the masses: It will enable the legal system to deliver on its promise of empowering the masses.Important step toward developing an informed citizenry.
  • Respect to Rule of Law: The decision will enable people to understand the importance of the rule of law.It will help people appreciate that the judiciary is firm in protecting the rights of the impoverished, historically marginalised and disempowered sections of society. Potential to build a culture of respect for the rule of law.
  • Living up the expectation of Constitution: Live-Streaming of Court proceedings is manifested in public interest. Public interest has always been preserved through the Constitution article 19 and 21.
  • More transparency: It will encourage the principle of open court and reduce dependence on second-hand views. It will effectuate the public’s right to know. This would inspire confidence in the functioning of the judiciary as an institution and help maintain the respect that it deserved as a co-equal organ of the state.
  • Raise the quality and standards of the legal profession: Lawyers will be better prepared to appear before the court and they will be mindful of not making irresponsible remarks. An inclusive approach to public scrutiny could nudge and enable lawyers to take the justice delivery mechanisms more seriously than they may have in the past.
  • Level playing field: It also creates a level playing ground for the younger members of the legal profession as their preparedness and intellectual prowess will be apparent to all.
  • Academic help: Watching courtroom proceedings,actual arguments by lawyers and searching questions by judges  could inspire law students to take up this relatively neglected field.Law faculty members and legal researchers will be motivated to work on new areas of scholarship and research relating to the functioning of the judiciary and legal profession.
  • Easy accessibility reducing the obstacle of distance: With live-streaming, the litigants will no longer have to come to Delhi to witness proceedings of their case which would be just a click away.
  • Strengthening Democracy: Transparency and accessibility of the process of justice delivery will strengthen the country’s democracy

CourtWhat are the Concerns around live-streaming of court?

  • Contempt of court: Video clips of proceedings from Indian courts are already on YouTube and other social media platforms with sensational titles and little context, such as “HIGH COURT super angry on army officer”.
  • Disinformation and sensationalism: There are fears that irresponsible or motivated use of content could spread disinformation among the public.
  • Unnecessary activism: With the advent of social media, every citizen became a potential journalist. Study shows that justices behave like politicians when given free television time, they act to maximize their individual exposure
  • Internet connectivity: Internet connectivity issues and the need for a well-equipped space where lawyers can conduct their cases are some of the major problems requiring attention.
  • Awareness and training: Judges, court staff and lawyers are not well-versed with digital technology and its benefits. The need of the hour is for them to be made aware of these and receive adequate training.

CourtWhich countries live-stream their court hearing?

  • Internationally,constitutional court proceedings are recorded in some form or the other.
  • United States: The Supreme Court of the United States streams its hearings in audio format at the end of each week.The US top court publishes hearings on its website and Oyez of all cases. Oyez is a multimedia judicial archive of the Supreme Court of the United States’ proceedings.
  • Brazil: The Supreme Federal Court of Brazil live streams hearings of all cases in video format on television.
  • UK: The UK Supreme Court live streams hearings of all cases in video format on its website.
  • Canada: The Canadian Supreme Court also live streams hearings of all its cases in video format on its website.
  • Australia: The Australian Supreme Court streams hearings of its full-court cases on its website with a delay of about a day. Meanwhile, the High Court of Australia (HCA) does not live-stream its proceedings.
  • China: In China,court proceedings are live-streamed from trial courts up to the Supreme People’s Court of China.

Conclusion

  • The chief justices (past and present) and the judges of the Supreme Court deserve to be congratulated for enabling a path-breaking and democratic decision that allows the people of India to be able to watch the live proceedings of the Constitutional Bench.The distinguished jurist, Oliver Holmes,famously observed,“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” The judges of the Supreme Court of India have ensured that we are indeed moving in the right direction.

Mains Question

Q.Adoption of technology will radically change the field of law and transform the judiciary. What will be the role of courts, judges, politicians,media and citizens of the country regarding live streaming of court proceedings. Discuss

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